How to Avoid Razor Bumps (for Men and Women)

In the world of shaving, it would seem that bigger is better — the latest razors have 5 blades at last count. But do the extra blades make a difference?


A razor with 5 blades instead of 2 or 3 will give you a closer shave (although they feel like you’re shaving with a tiny vacuum cleaner head). Each blade cuts the hair another fraction of an inch as you pull it across your skin, actually finishing below the surface, which is why it feels so smooth. You can get a similarly close shave by shaving against the grain.

But how smooth is smooth enough?

In some cases, a super-close shave is not desirable. Many men have thick or curly hair in their beards. Shaving too close causes the tip of the hair to get trapped beneath the skin, so when the hair grows, it grows back inward, trapped under the skin. This creates a tender (and unattractive) acne-like razor bump called pseudofolliculitis barbae.

A similar problem occurs in women when they shave their bikini area. If you have this problem, then be sure to soften the hair well with warm water and shaving cream first, then shave in the direction that the hair is growing.

Shaving closer also does not make the hair grow back more slowly. This is true for men and for women’s legs as well — the hair grows at the same rate no matter how close you shave it. Women, though, can try Aveeno’s Positively Smooth Shower and Shave Cream or Moisturizing Lotion which have soy proteins that can inhibit hair growth, keeping your legs smoother for longer.

If you have problems with razor bumps, consider scaling down to a two blade razor and shaving only in the direction the hair is growing. In most instances, the difference in closeness will not be noticeable, and you will be much happier without the ingrown hairs. Plus with the money you’d save (up to $3.50 ea. for cartridges), you might just be able to afford a full tank of gas for your car this month.

Post written by Jeffrey Benabio, MD

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Skincare Myths: Plucking Hair Makes it Grow Back Thicker

How to Save Money on Facial Moisturizers: Stop Washing Your Face

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18 thoughts on “How to Avoid Razor Bumps (for Men and Women)”

  1. Interesting. I did not know that razor bumps were actually ingrown hairs. I don’t have that problem, so I guess I’ll stick with my old two blade razor.

    Besides, I figured those 5-blade razors were just marketing hype.

    Here’s a tip: I’ve found that Persona makes the best (sharpest) replacement cartridges. They’re cheaper than the Gillette or Shick blades and give you a very close comfortable shave. Almost like not having a blade in the thing at all.

    By comparison Gillette blades are like shaving with a rusty spoon. 🙂

  2. Dean-
    I’ve never tried Persona blades; thanks for the tip!

  3. I had problems with ingrown hairs from shaving for a long time. I recently have started to get rid of them by shaving the direction the hair grows and it has made a difference in just a couple of weeks. I actually picked this tip up by watching “Dirty Jobs” on Discovery, a great show. Mike Rowe was shaving a cow to perform a c-section on it and said he never shaves against the grain because it gives him razor bumps. I figured if its good enough for Mike Rowe its good enough for me.

  4. Luke-
    LOL. Thanks. I don’t think my job will make his show, though. Although, I have seen some pretty nasty feet…

  5. A Concerned Mom says:

    Using a cornstarch based powder righter after shaving helps eliminate those pesky bumps, too (for the bikini area anyway).

  6. I’ve found that the best shaving cream is any brand of cream rinse applied after several minutes in a hot runnig shower, shaved with a sharp blade, in the direction of the hair growth. No bumps ever !!!

  7. Great post – didn’t know about the soy proteins. I wanted to add that for men, an even more economic, environmental, and nostalgic option could be to use an “old-fashioned” double-edge razor like Gillette used to make. They can be found on eBay, and some manufactures continue to make these razors today. Additionally, each blade is very inexpensive and creates very little waste (there’s no plastic cartridge to throw away when you’re done with the blade.)

  8. i have been having problems with razor bumps on the bikini area even when i use veet how can i get rid of them?

  9. Mr. Diddle says:

    You know… I used to get razor bumps, really annoying, and take a long time to get rid of. I now use and electric shaver instead of manual one. It’s not as close a shave, and you may need to shave a little bit more frequently because of this, but it’s much better than getting those pesky razor bumps, believe me.

  10. My advise is softening your hair with warm water will help you get a better shave and get rid of razor bumps once and for all. And also, don’t shave every day if you suffer from regular razor bumps!

  11. It’s best for me if I shave every third day and this means it is a lot less painful and I don’t get as many bumps are if I go for it every other day.

    Moisturizing really works to prepare the skin and care for it after. This has always worked for me.


  12. Lester Carter says:

    Mr. C skin lotion is the most effective lotion available anywhere for razor bumps. Go to Carter’s Drug Store at 2400 W. Burliegh in Milwaukee. The phone is 442-8760.

  13. Having very bushy penis hairs, I took to trimming them back to reduce the bulk, but that made the ends sharp and caused itching and irritation, so I started shaving, but that left me with shaving bumps which made subsequent shaving attempts even worse. In the end using a combination of the advice above has really helped. Now I only shave after treating the area to a good hot shampooing first to soften the penis hairs up a bit, followed by an application of crème rinse to the whole area. I use the crème rinse as the shaving crème as suggested above; using actual shaving crème is not comfortable anyway. After my shower I treat the entire area with tsubaki oil, which provides relief as well as smelling good. Further I try to keep the shaving to twice a week to reduce the chance of irritation; this has reduced the shaving bumps to only the occasional bump.


  14. Nice post! thanks for the advise Bill, I too suffer from very bush penis hairs and saving bumps. I am going to try the creme rinse and tsubaki oil.


  15. I’ve had razor bumps for ages, but then I started shaving less often and changed my moisturizer and their gone.
    Thanks for this great article!

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